By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 6.3
The compact SUV segment is a tough place to earn a paycheck, especially with long-established players such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 roaming freely. But, if you’re not one to go with the flow, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV is an alluring prospect. Subtle styling, an impressive list of available features, and a tenacious all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that includes varying modes for differing off-road conditions help elevate the Outlander above more basic compact SUVS, as does a sub-$25,000 starting price. On the downside, the Outlander’s 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines are not the most powerful in the class, and Mitsubishi’s limited dealer network might make servicing and warranty work difficult in more remote regions.
If you’re looking for a compact SUV with the ability to transport more than five passengers, venture off-road and offer a long list of cutting-edge audio and safety technology options, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is worth considering. Mitsubishi’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty should help seal the deal.
If power, refinement and resale value are among your top priorities, you’ll be better off in a Subaru Outback, Nissan Rogue or Kia Sorento. A limited dealer network may also be a drawback, especially in more rural areas.
KBB Expert Ratings
Mitsubishi’s Outlander for 2015 gets a number of upgrades. All trims now include FUSE hands-free linked audio with USB/iPod interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. SE trims get new leatherette and cloth seating, while the GT gains new aluminum-alloy wheels, LED taillights and silver roof rails.
The 2015 Outlander offers a choice between a 166-horsepower 4-cylinder or 224-horsepower V6. Unfortunately, the Outlander’s V6 isn’t all that powerful, and in back-to-back runs, we didn’t feel much of...
... a difference in either passing power or acceleration between the two powerplants. We think it speaks more to the superiority of 4-cylinder’s CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission) than any weakness in the V6/6-speed-automatic combo. However, for those regularly carrying passengers or towing more than 1,500 pounds, the V6 is the clear choice. We found the Outlander’s steering nicely weighted, but its overall handling lags behind competitors such as the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape. A comfortable cruiser, the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander feels especially at home on the highway, bolstering driver confidence with its available lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. Off road, the S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) system allows for confident adventuring over a variety of terrains.
ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES
While you can find SUVs with features like lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance, they are usually luxury brands. The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander breaks that mold, with systems that work seamlessly to keep you safe.
IMPRESSIVE AUDIO SYSTEM
Great road trips demand great road tunes, and what better way to listen to them than through an available 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system with a bass inducing 10-inch subwoofer. The unit includes Dolby Volume, a system that analyzes incoming music and evens out sound levels across devices.
All 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SUVs have seating for seven across three rows, although the flat-folding 3rd-row seat is rather small. With the rear seat in place, there isn’t much room for cargo. However, folding all rear seats creates over 63 cubic feet of room, less than the Nissan Rogue’s 70 cubic feet, but still respectable. Up front, the dash and controls are clean and simple, but rather plain. The "soft-touch" dash materials are just barely that. Base ES models are even drabber, with dead spots taking the place of buttons reserved for higher trims. The available fake wood trim works, but the faux carbon-fiber accents don't.
The 2015 Outlander compact crossover SUV departs from Mitsubishi’s aggressive styling in favor of a theme defined by curves, not angles. We find it somewhat vanilla, but likely less polarizing. Traditionalists will miss the original model’s split-opening liftgate, replaced last year with a more traditional but less useful one-piece unit. The tradeoff offers ease in its own right with optional power opening and closing. Most trims include roof rails for added cargo-carrying capacity, and the 8.5-inches of ground clearance to ensure that the Outlander can tackle deep snow or off-road obstacles with ease.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander is available in three trims: ES, SE and GT. Base ES models come with automatic climate control, keyless entry, a 140-watt AM/FM/CD FUSE audio system, Bluetooth, and 16-inch steel wheels. SE and GT models come much better equipped with heated front seats, a color information screen, 18-inch wheels, a touch-based audio system and dual-zone climate control. Those two higher trims also receive a standard backup camera. GT models come with all-wheel drive and a V6 engine in place of the 4-cylinder, rain-sensing wipers, and paddles for manual shifting. All 2015 Outlanders carry Mitsubishi's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Among the more impressive options available in the 2015 Outlander are its forward-collision mitigation system and lane-departure warning, two advanced safety features that can help prevent an accident. Thankfully, you don't have to buy a pricier top-end GT model to obtain these features – they are available in the mid-level SE trim, bundled in the Touring Package. The package also includes navigation, a power driver's seat, adaptive cruise control, a power sunroof, leather upholstery, and a power tailgate. Music lovers will enjoy the punch of the available 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with nine speakers and a built-in subwoofer.
Outlander ES and SE models use a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 166 horsepower and powers either the front wheels or all four. The fuel-efficient engine runs on regular unleaded and has a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. The Outlander GT uses a 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 224 horsepower and comes standard with all-wheel drive. That more powerful engine uses premium gasoline and has a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds. All Outlanders are equipped with automatic transmissions, either a CVT in 4-cylinder versions or a 6-speed automatic when equipped with the V6.
2.4-liter inline-4 (ES, SE, SE S-AWC)
166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
162 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, estimated: 25/31 mpg (front-wheel drive), 24/29 mpg (all-wheel drive)
3.0-liter V6 (GT)
224 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
214 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy, estimated: 20/28 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a base 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander ES starts just under $24,000. Better-equipped SE models start around $25,000, and V6-powered GT trims start closer to $29,000. A top-of-the-line Outlander GT with the Touring package that includes safety features like automatic braking can reach $35,000. Compared with the Outlander's closest competitor, the Kia Sorento, the Mitsubishi's starting price is more than $1,000 less. The larger Dodge Journey, meanwhile, starts around $21,000. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander. In terms of resale value, the Outlander has traditionally held up well with residuals on par with or even better than the Sorento, better than the Dodge Journey, but below 5-passenger crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.